Judge Orders Teen who Started Wildfire to Pay Over $36-Million in Restitution

Firebrains | FireFire
eagle creek, wildfire, Oregon
Taken Sept. 4, 2017, showing the wildfire as seen from near Stevenson, Wash., across the Columbia River, burning in the Columbia River Gorge above Cascade Locks. Credit: Tristan Fortsch/KATU-TV via AP

A judge has ordered a teen who admitted to starting a wildfire that swept through the Columbia River Gorge last year to pay over $36 million but acknowledges the teen can’t pay the sum in full reports the Oregon Live.

eagle creek, wildfire, Oregon
A barricade closed the Bridge of the Gods, spanning the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon, near Stevenson, Wash., on, Sept. 6, 2017. The fire continued to burn on the Oregon side of the river near Cascade Locks. Credit: AP Photo/Randy L. Rasmussen

Hood River County Circuit Judge John A. Olson wrote in an opinion released Monday that the court awards restitution totaling about $36,618,330 on behalf of Eagle Creek fire victims including the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation. Olson also tapped the local juvenile department to come up with a payment schedule for the restitution.

Jack Morris, the lawyer for the 15-year-old, last week called the figure “absurd” and “absolutely silly.”

Olson wrote in his opinion: “Having reviewed the arguments presented by the parties, the court is persuaded that an award of more than $36 million in restitution does not violate either the state or federal constitution.”

eagle creek, wildfire, Oregon
The blaze began in the Columbia River Gorge. Credit: Genna Martin/seattlepi.com via AP, File

He also wrote that the figure “is clearly proportionate to the offense because it does not exceed the financial damages caused by the youth.”

According to records, the court awarded restitution to the state on behalf of the below victims:
  • Iris Schenk, whose Warrendale house burned down: $5,000
  • Allstate Insurance: $8,111.44
  • Oregon State Parks: $31,550.90
  • Heuker Properties: $100,000
  • Trail Club of Oregon: $168,000
  • Union Pacific Railroad: $1,048,877.52
  • Oregon State Fire Marshal: $1,643,035.38
  • Oregon Department of Transportation: $12.5 million
  • U.S. Forest Service: $21,113,755
The court did not award restitution to Amanda Rosenkoetter and Anne Coxen, who requested $4,563.72 and $8,793.14.

Related Articles

One thought on “Judge Orders Teen who Started Wildfire to Pay Over $36-Million in Restitution

  1. The defense lawyer is right, it is absurd. Therefore, he, and the punk kid, should both serve 1 yr. locked up for every $1,0 of fine. See you guys in 36 yrs, boys!

Got an opinion? Let us know...